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How to be a great agent

Steinberg Says

November 05, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg

Last week we discussed the hyper-competitive world of sports agentry and what qualities it takes to be successful.

It is critical to have a great heart and true compassion for the welfare of athletes.

It is critical to keep the concept of being a "steward of the sport" a constant priority.

It is necessary to have a passion for the pursuit and a compelling work ethic.

It is critical to understand the powerful impact athletes can have as role models and to counsel them to retrace their roots to the high school, collegiate and professional community and set up programs that enhance the quality of life. And it is critical to commit to preparing athletes for a second career and stimulate their non-athletic skills from the day they walk in your office.

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The role of an agent is to bring value to the life of a player. Athletes are not looking for someone who can recite the statistics of last year's Super Bowl or share anecdotes of favorite sports memories — that is the role of fans.

An athlete is looking for someone with specific skills — legal, financial and public relations, for example — that can help them solve problems.

The primary three roles in agenting are 1. Recruiting. 2. Contract negotiation. 3. Client maintenance.

Recruiting: This requires the ability to reach out to and convince an athlete to choose the right agent. Most draftees have their father or other family members screen the hundreds of competitive agents and set up meetings with a few. These interviews will have the player and family asking questions and scrutinizing backgrounds, doing due diligence. Some are so intense that I know I could be selected Secretary of State afterward. So how did I recruit the first player in the first round of eight NFL drafts and 60 first-round draft choices, and half the starting quarterbacks in the league on any given Sunday? By listening. Asking the right questions to explore the heart and mind of a young man and then carefully listening for text and subtext is key. Having a true understanding of the deepest hopes and dreams and greatest fears and anxieties affords the ability to speak directly to the most relevant concerns. And it allows an agent to lay out a compelling future for a young athlete.

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